Friday, November 04, 2011

Get a Gat

Got a query from a gun-noob, somebody who doesn't own one, but apparently wants to get his feet wet. 

What would you recommend? he asked.

Kind of like saying, "I'm hungry–what should I eat?" It's kind of a big menu expressed that broadly.

So I answered a question with a question: What do you plan to use it for, this gun? While a particular item of boomware can be put to a variety of uses, one size doesn't fit all, and allowances must be made: Form follows function.

Is it going to be used for hunting? Ducks? Or deer? Bear? Squirrels? An elephant gun isn't so good for rabbits, nor is a squirrel rifle apt to do you much good against a charging rhino. 

Shooting competition? What kind? Paper at the indoor range? Ringing steel at the combat bay? Cowboy action? Six hundred yard military? Black powder?

Self defense? At home? On the street? On a battlefield? 

The zombie apocalypse? The collapse of Western Civilization? 

Paperweight? Wall hanger? What?

Um. Uh ... home protection ... ?

Get a shotgun. 12-gauge pumps are good, but the gauge isn't critical. If you are a small person, there are those that bark quieter and kick less. (In shotguns, the smaller a whole number, the bigger the payload. So 8-gauge is a big honker, 10-gauge still big, 12-gauge the standard duck or riot gun. 16-gauge, 20-gauge, 28-gauge, .410 gauge, all get smaller. You can even get rat- or snakeshot for rifles or pistols, but I wouldn't go that way. Rifled barrels spin the shot too much, and there isn't a lot of it. Enough for a rat or snake.

The sound of a pump shotgun's slide being racked is apt to be terrifying to anybody who thinks there's a nervous person doing that in their direction. Yo, what up, dude, what say we go find a different house to burgle, hey? Little old lady the other end of the hall has got a fuckin' shotgun, and if you want to run down there and take it away, you go right ahead, I'm gone ...

Long guns are easier to aim and control than sidearms, though if you are walking through your house clearing it, having that barrel stick out could be a problem. 

Any good shotgun, loaded with birdshot or BBs (and the smaller the number here, the larger the shot size) will turn a home invader's face right to the wall. And small shot is less apt to penetrate a couple of walls and kill your neighbors. 

It's not a magic wand. It won't spray like a blunderbuss, because at ranges across the kitchen, the shot doesn't have time to spread very far, so you have to aim the sucker like a rifle. It makes a big hole, but you can't just thrust it in a general direction and hope you hit something. If you can point your finger at somebody's chest, however, you can do that with a shotgun and center-punch them. 

If I knew a psychopathic murderer was about to kick in my door with axe uplifted, the weapon I would want in my hands would be a 12-gauge pump shotgun. Though probably a double-barrel would be sufficient. Two for sure ...

(And for those of you who are gun-folk already, lemme ask you the old question: If you had to restrict yourself to one firearm, what would it be? And if you don't already own it, why not?)

If you want a handgun to stick in the lockbox by the bed? Get a .38 Special double-action revolver. Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Taurus, there are a lot of people who make these, and they are  simple to operate. 1) Point the muzzle at the evil-doer. 2) Pull the trigger. 3) Repeat as necessary.

If you need to carry something concealed upon your person for whatever, a handgun works better than a long gun. If you plan to go bird hunting? Yeah, if you are good enough, you can use a handgun, but if you are that good, you don't need any advice from me.

No, a .38 Special is not a rhino-stopper, either, but you needn't worry about safeties, wrist-breaking recoil, nor what condition the weapon is in. Load it, it's ready to rock. There are a lot of more powerful handguns, but five or six rounds from what the police all carried until semi-autos became reliable will give your average burglar-bent-on-mayhem pause.

If you want to be more sure, get a .357 Magnum revolver. It thunders much louder and kicks more, but it does the trick 9.6 times out of 1o. Works the same way as the .38 Special. 

But: eight or ten shots from a .22 LR, pistol or rifle will make somebody reconsider his actions, for that. Don't forget the first and most important rule of a gunfight:

Bring a gun.

Yeah, there's no rule says you can have only one gun. But it's like dope, once you get the first one, it's easy to get hooked, so be careful. 

If you have no training in use of a firearm, get some. Find a class that lets you put rounds down range, and practice until you are sure of your ability (and the gun's) to hit that at which you aim. You need to know that it will shoot, and where it throws the bullets. This is important. If you can't do that, the gun might as well be a club. Baseball bats are cheaper. 


Scott said...

One gun?

My Browning .270. Kills deer, soup cans and vermin within 200 yards with absolute certainty; haven't missed with it in over 2 decades. Unertl 4X scope makes it practically cheating.

Personal protection? If I actually have to use it I'm with you; Remington 870 Marine magnum in the bedroom or trunk, a Smith and Wesson 686 in the glove compartment or briefcase/backpack. For concealed carry I like Bond Arms's .410 shotgun derringers.

Ed said...

I am gun poor right now but if I had only one to pick it would be a Ruger MK I or II .22 with bull barrel and a Majestic Arms Takedown Kit - ammo cheaper - can shoot more, tons of accessories, sturdy pistol.

On want/perceived need list in no particular order -

H&R single shot 7mm-08
Mossberg or H&R Protector 12 guage
Stevens model 35 tip up .22 6"
NAA Ranger top break .22
Cimmaron Navy open top .38 4 3/4Cimmaron Lightning .38 4 3/4
S&W Victory .38 4"
Ruger SP101 .327 Mag
Auto Ord, Spring or Colt 1911 .45
Ruger 10/22 with Majestic Arms 16"
Radom P-35 9mm
Browning Buckmark Field .22
S&W .38 snub
Assorted silenced rifles, pistols


Mike Byers said...

I like the double-rail slide on the Remington; the Combat 12 is my favorite and I carried one for a couple of years when I was in the military, loaded with #4s or those chopped razor wire rounds the SEALs favor for some operations. It's hard to choose between this one and my grandfather's Colt Woodsman match target, though.

joycemocha said...

Lessee, have the 12 gauge. Killed a grouse with it during this past hunting season. So things work well there. Have .22 pistols, have 30.06 Ruger. I think I'm in good shape. None of it's good for concealed carry, but considering I work in a school, concealed carry ain't what it's about, anyway.

I'm primarily a hunter, anyway...but I do confess to having pumped the 12 gauge a time or two when I was alone in the house with a baby when DH was traveling for work. Amazing how quick the suspicious noise outside the house goes away when you pump the 12 gauge Winchester.

If I were going for a concealed carry, I'd probably want a Sig Sauer. I've shot one, and paradoxically the large-framed gun balances nicely in my small hands. Better than some of its smaller kin. Interesting how that works...and the guy it belonged to commented that it's actually a pretty common phenomenon, which is why you see small women shooting the big semis. At least according to him.

(though I did shoot another big semi that required the hand strength to squeeze the grip to release a safety or some such thing. Frustrating for me because I couldn't do it).

J.D. Ray said...

The two firearms I own, a Remington single shot .22 rifle that I've had since I was twelve, and a .45 caliber "Outlaw Josey Wales"-style black powder six shooter. Neither is appropriate for home defense, concealed carry, or, if I were a mind to, hunting. As we're considering a move to the countryside in the next few years, I've been researching guns.

For a variety of reasons, I've settled on a .357 double-action revolver, either a Ruger or Smith&Wesson (probably the latter, though price is a consideration).

Growing up, my dad had a Ruger .357 cowboy gun we used to shoot sometimes, often with .38 loads that we kids could handle. One time his wife, home alone, drove off a suspicious character prowling around the property by putting a round between his feet. That was in response to him walking toward her saying, "Oh, now you don't really know how to use that thing, do you?" He promptly left afterward.

So, the .357 has a little nostalgia for me, and the S&W hammerless five shooter is a good, easy to conceal, easy to handle, and generally foolproof. My wife asked, "What if you need more than five shots?" Well, then, you're in deeper than you were ever going to be ready for, or at least that's my take on it.

Doing some research, I discovered that lever action rifles also come in .357. According to some ballistics I was reading, a rifle with a 20" barrel performs similarly to the .30-30, one of the most popular deer hunting rifles of all time. One cartridge for all sizes of firearm from hideaway to hunting rifle? Sounds like a good option to me. And any one of them can use the smaller, less expensive .38.

So, beyond thinking that a pump shotgun is a good idea for all the reasons you point out, Steve, I think the .357 is the gun for us. And for pure boom, I've still got the Colt replica.